Today, PURE filed a discrimination complaint against the Chicago Public Schools with the U. S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, citing the disproportionate impact of the CPS elementary promotion policy on African-American and Latino students.
Research in Chicago has shown that the policy does not work, has a negative impact on student achievement, and increases the drop out rate. The policy costs at least $100 million per year, money that we believe should be redirected toward programs with a track record of success, such as lower class size and increased parent involvement.
PURE joined by parents. teachers
We were joined at our press conference this morning by parent Linda Hudson, who filed an individual complaint on behalf of her son, who was retained and forced to repeat sixth grade this fall.
Norine Gutekanst, organizing coordinator for the Chicago Teachers’ Union, made a statement of the CTU’s support for our complaint.
Our attorney, Elaine K. B. Siegel, explained the OCR process to the press. We expect OCR to decide fairly quickly if they will investigate our complaint. The complaint resolution process itself could take several months.
Since 1996, the Chicago school district has been flunking students based on their scores on end-of-year standardized tests. PURE filed a similar complaint in 1999 which forced CPS to change the policy to include multiple measures instead of a single cut-off score. They also agreed to a parent appeal process and to monitor and report on any disproportionate impact of the policy by race. Unfortunately, CPS has failed to meet the letter or the spirit of those agreements.
What’s even worse, six years ago the Consortium on Chicago School Reserach did an exhaustive study of the policy, and concluded by recommending that CPS stop retention immediately:
Did retaining these low-achieveing students help? The answer to this question is decidedly no…. If an expensive policy is simply not working, as concluded in this report, it would make little sense to invest more money in it rather than to redirect that money toward alternatives.
It’s time to replace this failed, wasteful policy with programs that actually work, such as the now-dismantled Chicago Child Parent Centers, which specialized in early intervention for the most at-risk children. Other proven strategies include smaller class sizes and increased parent involvement.